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Pakistanis don't fear chickens Peter Sandman, a self-described "risk communication consultant" in Princeton, New Jersey in 2004 published his "control principle". He made this point after a single case of mad-cow disease in United States prompted an anti beef panic. "The basic reality is that the risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are very different" said Sandman.

He offered, in America, a comparison between exceedingly rare mad-cow disease and the spread of common but not scary food-borne pathogens in the average home kitchen. The numbers that he came with and the in turn result was that " the risks that you control are much less a source of outrage that risks that are out of your control," Sandman said.

"In the case of mad-cow, it feels like it's beyond my control. I can't tell if my meat has prions in it or not. I can't see it, I can't smell it. Whereas dirt in my own kitchen is very much in my own control I can clean my sponges. I can clean the floor."

This "principle" can also explain that why most people are more scared of flying in an aeroplane than driving a car. Their thinking goes something like this: since I control the car, I am the one keeping myself safe; since I have no control of the aeroplane, I am at the mercy of myriad external factors.

This is now I must say for the people of USA. Now if I am to derive something it could be that Americans fear thing that they cannot control and as far as it is concerned I or Sandman may not be so wrong as news tells us but I can derive one thing more which also quite obvious that Americans as a nation like things under their control.

Now considering that Sandman's principle is true it, in an intelligent way tell about a nation's view about control. Taking under consideration a similar event in Pakistan: the bird flu we see that comparatively the panic was much less. Chicken prices went down for a few days but after some notice here and there it was all a happy ending. What does it say?

Pakistan don't fear chickens (failed pun I know) or in turn its diseases? Or does it have a larger, deeper insight?

I say it does, now taking example of the fear of aeroplane and car. People in Pakistan would like to travel in an aeroplane rather a car and for some truly unique reasons. Security issues in Pakistan don't offer security (another failed intended pun) extremists, Raymond Davis(s), common accidents and even more common grand theft autos. Even if they are rarer than it seems the fear of it captivates us even though it is in our control.

Same is with most of the issues, for example we are afraid of corruption even when it is in our control. The common belief is that we can't do anything about it and until we do something about it will be the truth. The aeroplane is however another story, it's in the control of trained professionals and terrorist threats are now almost a natural disaster: usually occurring these days AND unstoppable. So is it that we lack the courage to take control or we are just plain lazy to do it?

I guess it's a bit of both. What do you think?

Data extracted from "Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

Be the change you want. bird flu